When Saying Goodbye to $1030 is a Good Idea

Posted by Amanda on September 2, 2009

There is a saying that people throw around with an air of wisdom without truly knowing the financial consequences of following: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is easy to say this to the young intern that needs a new brake system to prevent a future accident, or to the young couple that has yet to sign up for health insurance, or to the person in their 30s who should have gotten their wisdom teeth out to prevent the thousand dollar dentist bill they are now facing (let alone the extra pain of infected, impacted teeth).

But what about when it comes time for you to ante up the money for something preventative with no immediate tangible benefits? Trust me, the experience is quite different.

Buying Our First Home

My fiancée and I are in the process of buying our first home. We fell in love with a gorgeous house in Houston, Texas that is located just ten-fifteen miles away from both of our jobs, has a cute backyard that is big enough for a vegetable garden, and has enough bedrooms to convert one into my very own office.

After making an offer against three competing bids and winning, we celebrated our success. We knew we were now going to be taking out a loan bigger than any other loans we had ever taken out combined, but this was an expected expense. What we hadn’t expected, and what came next, were the preventative measure costs.

Inspection Costs

At first it was the General Inspection and a Termite Inspection, which racked up $350. And then it was the additional AC/Heat diagnostic inspection, for $130. Add in a survey and an appraisal, and suddenly we were looking at $1030 extra in the name of prevention.

Even in this instance where the preventative costs were high, these inspections truly were an ounce of prevention when you take into consideration the total investment we are making.

Checkout the possible problems these inspections found and the actual costs we could have been looking at down the road had these problems not surfaced until after the sale of the home (in other words, once we were living in it):

  • Several weep holes, which allow the inside of walls to breathe in the very humid Houston region, were closed off. Possible future mold issues. Future cost: depending on severity, up to $20,000, although average issues cost between $500-$4,000.
  • Flash seals on the roof were sticking up in several areas, which could allow water from future rainstorms to seep into the ceiling of the house. Possible plaster, walls, and mold issues. Future cost: depending on severity, see above.
  • Deficient AC/Heating systems throughout the house. Possible high electricity bills as soon as we move in (owners currently paying nearly $500 a month in the summertime to cool off the home), and $10,000-$12,000 in future system replacement costs.

Negotiation

We paid the prevention costs, and because it gave us knowledge of these issues, we were able to negotiate with the owners to fix the problems before they had the opportunity to become budget-disasters for us. We were also able to target options in a home warranty plan that would be valuable to us in the future and protect us from possible outcomes from other issues that surfaced during the inspections.

An Ounce of Prevention

There are no guarantees in life, plain and simple. But some services allow us to take a sneak peek at something that could go wrong, and then act accordingly to insure ourselves against the possible outcomes.

Nobody likes to spend $1030 before purchasing a home, and certainly not my fiancée and me. But how much would we like to shell out $3,000 for future mold issues, or $10,000 to replace two AC units? In this case, the answer was obvious: no matter how much this ounce of prevention hurt, we said goodbye to the $1030, and are thankful for what it will save us in the future.





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Comments to When Saying Goodbye to $1030 is a Good Idea

  1. saving money on house inspections is non-negotiable! you made the right choice!

    Passive Income blog

  2. 1st: Homeownership is a uniquely liberating experience. I’m happy for you and your fiancee. 2nd: Surveys, appraisals, elevation certificates, pest inspections, roof inspections, etc., are worth every penny you pay for them. They provide piece of mind which is good. More importantly though, they provide an avenue for legitimate litigation should a problem arise later as a result of a faulty inspection. For that reason, I would not use anyone that did not have Errors and Omissions insurance.

    BluSky

  3. Hey guys!

    Thanks for the comments.

    We are now up to $1230 in costs, but I agree–these are costs that will pay themselves back in the future.

    Amanda

  4. Look on the bright side Amanda, how do you think the seller feels about paying hundreds of dollars for YOUR title insurance policy? Y’all may have negotiated differently but typically in Texas the sellers pay for the owner’s title policy and the buyers pay for the inexpensive one that covers the lender.

    anon

  5. The home inspection is a no brainer, you always want one. Its great for peace of mind but also to protect your investment.

    However, I will share with you what happened to me once. I got the appraisal (around $300 I think) and then got the inspection. Something major came up and the seller would not work with me on it, so I walked away. I was out the appraisal and home inspection cost (around $650 I think).

    Rule: Always get the inspection first, before the appraisal or survey (if you get one).

    Thanks!

    basicmoneytips

  6. Anon: Good point! Since this is our first home, honestly I don’t know who is paying what at this point:). Thanks for reading and commenting!

    basicmoneytips: Ouch! I am sorry to hear that. That is great information–inspection first! After our inspection, when we thought we might have issues negotiating certain things, we thought we were going to have to walk. The idea of losing $700 was awful, but if we had to do it, we would have. Fortunately everything worked out!

    Amanda

  7. Very interesting article. You bring up some great points. And yes, upfront, the fees seem astronomical, but definitely worth every penny you spend … especially when you can use the inspection to negotiate a lower price on the house. Congrats on your new home!!!

    anonymous

  8. We too just bought a home in Houston! I didn’t realize how much money we would spend before closing (earnest money, inspections, etc). I can recommend a lender if you don’t have one already (no relation or anything but she got us a great rate – .375% lower than anyone else could offer). Email me if you want her contact info. It pays to shop around.

    Carrie

  9. Hello Carrie!

    Thanks for the comment–and congratulations on your new home! Houston seems to be a great market for cheap real estate (this is compared to the Northeast, which is where I am from). We do have a lender, and we have the option of floating our locked interest rate down by 0.375%, but we will not find out until closing day (this Thursday!)

    Keep reading, and thanks for the comment.

    Carrie

  10. You brought back memories from two years ago when we sold and bought homes concurrently.

    Congratulations on buying your home!

    Bucksome

  11. Hello Bucksome!

    You are probably happy they are memories:). Although I must say, this is such an exciting time! Thanks for your comment.

    Amanda L. Grossman

  12. Inspections are a good idea and well worth the money because even a NEW home can have problems. This happened to my daughter last year and the builder fixed the list of problems on her brand new home.

    Also, if you are buying a used home, no home is perfect. You are buying used AC and used appliances that might not be as efficient as the ones available now. Upgrading does cost thousands, but that is your choice.

    Some problems an inspection reveals the owner may never have known about. Some items aren’t really a problem either, so why should it be for you if it wasn’t for them? Remember the inspector WILL find something to bring to your attention to justify his fee.

    Be negotiable in your demands, as the seller is trying to get the best deal for themselves, too! Always buy a home warranty, too, (the seller may offer it) because things will happen. It can pay for itself the first time you need it. Congrats and good luck.

    beachgirl

  13. Great article. We’ve bought and sold several homes over the years and I’m reminded of how far an accepted offer really is from closing on the propoerty. For every real estate transaction I’ve been involved in, there’s been a second round of negotiations after the home inspection.

    Steve

  14. Beachgirl: Thanks for the comment and thoughts! That was what we negotiated–a home warranty plan that the sellers are paying the first year on (and it includes pre-existing conditions). This satisfied all parties involved. We actually just moved in yesterday, and today just finished cleaning out our old apartment! Whew!

    Steve: Thanks for the comment; I think it is good that we didn’t know how involved the process was (or how exhausted we would be), because maybe we would have waited to buy! Hahaha. Now we are in our home (moved in yesterday!) and are very happy that we put in all of this effort.

    Amanda L Grossman

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